As you might recall, last year we had a blast interviewing some of our favorite DIY’ers with “Eleven Questions” about the perfection of their craft, inspirations, most trusted resources. We’re happy to bring this feature back in 2011, starting wtih with bona fide DIY superstars – Young House Love!
If you follow DIY, interior decorating or crafting on the Web, no doubt you are familiar with the adorable and awesome story of Sherry and John Petersik. Having moved from NYC to Virginia, they bought an old house, started sharing their DIY renovations of it on the Web, and it became incredibly popular – and for good reason! John and Sherry threw themselves into every type of DIY project imaginable – from hosting their own backyard wedding, to painting and trimming baseboards, to fully gutting and rebuilding a bathroom to reupholstering chairs.
Now, they’re on their second home, complete with baby and dog, and are just as busy as ever. We caught up with Sherry to ask her how they manage to get it all done, how they even start to figure out how to do these crazy projects and what celebrity home they are dying to crash.
1.) First off, with a dog, a small baby, a new house and all the responsibilities that come with – how in the world do you find time to still DIY such large-scale projects?
We don’t sleep. Kidding. Sort of. But it’s definitely a commitment that we make to ourselves and our readers. We work hard to keep momentum going and spirits up so we don’t burn out and we stay as productive as possible. It really is our passion though, so it’s not much of a hardship – in fact we have a ton of fun. It’s usually just about trying to tackle things in a somewhat efficient way and squeeze every minute out of every day (while leaving a few spare moments for eating and spending time with each other without our laptops and hammers).
2.) From refinishing cabinets to widening doorways to installing drywall, there doesn’t seem to be any project that can intimidate you. What resources do you use to research how to appropriately tackle these repairs/upgrades?
We’re all about Google. And reading books at the library. Or Barnes & Noble. And picking the brains of people who look like they know what they’re doing at the hardware store. We’ll take info and inspiration wherever we can find it. And we try not to be scared to tackle new things. The entire home improvement thing was completely new to us five short years ago (we’d never even picked up a sledgehammer or painted trim back then), so we’ve decided that learning as we go is definitely a method that works for us. We just try to take things one small step at a time to keep from getting overwhelmed.
3.) Who are your DIY heroes?
Mine is John. Sappy but true. The man amazes me with his I’ll-try-anything-once (and maybe twice) home improvement attitude. We’re also big fans of people like Nate Berkus and Candice Olsen. They might have a team of helpers these days, but they both paved their own way and have insane amounts of creativity and an aesthetic that’s sophisticated but never stuffy.
4.) What is your dream DIY project? At this rate, it seems you guys will be able to build a house from the ground up in the not-so-distant future!
Haha, we’re not quite ready for that yet. But we would say that our dream DIY project is the new house. So I guess we’re living the dream. Har-har. But seriously, we’re just so excited to have a nice blank slate to reinvent in so many exciting ways. Sometimes we lay in bed and our minds just race with all the possibilities.
5.) What are the home improvement tools you can’t live without?
Sledgehammer, screwdrivers, paint brush, roller, wrench, hacksaw, crowbar, drills, sandpaper, and a whole lotta sweat equity.
6.) What has been your biggest DIY mistake?
We painted every square inch of trim in our house with flat white paint when we moved in (it’s supposed to be semi-gloss or high gloss so it’s wipeable). Yeah, that took about a hundred hours to undo. We pretty much wanted to die. It’s honestly the truth when we say that five years ago we had no idea what we were doing. Sometimes readers think we’ve been doing this for decades or our parents taught us this stuff growing up but we were two NYC apartment dwellers who didn’t have a clue. We just did our best to learn on the fly after moving to Virginia and buying our first house. And what a wild ride it’s been!
7.) One of our favorite things about you is that you never post about anything that hasn’t inspired you or that you haven’t bought or used personally. Where are some of your favorite stores and sites for inspiration and products?
When it comes to sites that inspire us, we love Canadian House & Home! They have so much eye candy it hurts. We also love Olympic Premium No-VOC paint, since it can be color matched to all sorts of swatches and even fabrics – without having to worry about harmful VOCs (a lot of other mainstream no-VOC paint isn’t non-VOC after they add colorants, but Olympic Premium paint always is).
8.) Being quite nosy about other people’s spaces ourselves, (we live in NY and Northern NJ and as you know, apartment envy is just a way of life here) one of our favorite features of yours is House Crashing. What famous houses would you want to crash? (I, for example, am weirdly curious what Jennifer Aniston wakes up to in the morning. The Hollywood Hills? The ocean?)
I want to crash Brangelina’s pad like crazy! I picture it being really chic but totally livable and cozy (how else could so many kids live there?). We imagine them having this giant sectional that the whole family can snuggle into for movie night. We also think it would be really interesting to house crash someone like Bjork or Lady GaGa. There’s just something fun about seeing how über-creative people live – especially those who throw the whole “houses-should-look-like-this” mentality out the window.
9.) When helping your clients find a look that works for their style and their home – what do you find is biggest challenge?
We actually don’t have clients anymore. Sadly there just aren’t enough hours in the day! Although we promise to make a big announcement when we begin taking them on again, we’re also really excited to concentrate on our own house for a little while. Sharing our own adventures (and misadventures) is always fun because we can be brutally honest if something didn’t work out the way we planned. We like how real we can keep it when the focus is on our house. The whole documentation and sharing aspect of blogging has always been our passion (although helping other people is pretty sweet, too) so it’s fun to focus on that for a while- especially with a baby around to keep us on our toes.
10.) What advice would you give budding DIY or interior design lovers about doing work for others?
Just try to be a good listener. We’re huge believers in the “what-works-for-one-person-does-not-necessarily-work-for-another-person” truth of interior design. At the end of the day they’re the ones who have to live with it, so try to be flexible and work around their vision and their needs instead of letting your own take over too much. At the end of the day they’ll have a space that they love and you’ll most likely love that you were able to go outside of your comfort zone to meet them in theirs and create the home of their dreams. It’s win-win.
11.) You guys have enjoyed such great success so far with no signs of slowing down. Where will we find Sherry and John in five years?
Still covered in reno dust clutching a sledgehammer. At least we hope so!